Here's How to Plunge Like a Pro

Follow these five tips and your New Year's Day swim will only cause a minor shock to the system.


Photo courtesy of Special Olympics Rhode Island

Every first of the year, more than 1,000 plungers brave the frigid New England waters to benefit Special Olympics of Rhode Island. Will you join them on Sunday at Roger Wheeler State Beach?

For first-time plungers, Special Olympics' Tracy Garabedian offers some insider tips:

1. Make sure you have something on your feet. "Either sneakers or water shoes," Garabedian says.

2. You really don't want to wrangle off a near-frozen hot dog costume or Spandex in front of 1,000 new friends. "People like to dress up or wear fun costumes or wear a couple of layers and they think it might not be as bad. It might seem like a good idea going in, but coming out, you realize it's a pretty bad idea," she says.

3. Have a towel buddy. "Have somebody waiting for you, someone standing there holding your towel. When you get out, you're a little shocked to the system and you really need someone there."

4. There's no shame in going in up to your knees. Okay, maybe a little shame. "The unofficial rule of diehard plungers is that it doesn’t count if you don’t go in all the way," Garabedian says. "But the most important thing is to make sure everyone who goes in comes out safely."

5. Disregard this whole list. Preparation is moot. "No matter how much you prepare or think you're ready, you’re probably not. It hits you and takes your breath away," she says. "And it’s a double whammy because you’re smacked back with the cold air."

Also worth noting: The cause outweighs the general terribleness of letting your skin touch the ocean in January. Proceeds from the event fund sports training and athletic competitions for more than 3,000 athletes with disabilities in Rhode Island.

Head over to Special Olympics Rhode Island's FirstGiving page and start fundraising; there's a $50 minimum. The plunge starts at noon sharp on Sunday, January 1, at Roger Wheeler State Beach, 100 Sand Hill Cove Rd., Narragansett. To learn more about Special Olympics, visit

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